Protein in urine — known as proteinuria (pro-tee-NU-ree-uh) — is any excess amount of protein found in a urine sample. Protein is one of the substances identified during urinalysis, a test to analyze the content of your urine.
Low levels of protein in urine are normal. Temporarily high levels of protein in urine aren't unusual either, particularly in younger people after exercise or during an illness. If a urinalysis shows you have protein in your urine, you might have a follow-up test that determines how much protein is present and whether it's a cause for concern.
If you have diabetes, your doctor may check for small amounts of protein in urine — also known as microalbuminuria (my-kroh-al-byoo-min-U-ree-uh) — once or twice each year. Newly developing or increasing amounts of protein in your urine may be the earliest sign of diabetic kidney damage.
Protein in urine
Conditions that can cause a temporary rise in the levels of protein in urine, but don't necessarily indicate kidney damage, include:
- Cold exposure
- Emotional stress
- Heat exposure
- Strenuous exercise
Diseases and conditions that can cause persistently elevated levels of protein in urine, which may indicate kidney disease, include:
- Amyloidosis (buildup of abnormal proteins in your organs)
- Certain drugs
- Chronic kidney disease
- Glomerulonephritis (inflammation in the kidney cells that filter waste from the blood)
- Goodpasture's syndrome (disease involving the kidneys and lungs)
- Heart disease
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Hodgkin's lymphoma (Hodgkin's disease)
- IgA nephropathy (Berger's disease) (kidney inflammation resulting from a buildup of the antibody immunoglobulin A)
- Kidney infection
- Multiple myeloma
- Orthostatic proteinuria (urine protein level rises when in an upright position)
- Pericarditis (inflammation of the sac that surrounds the heart)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sarcoidosis (development and growth of clumps of inflammatory cells in your organs)
- Sickle cell anemia
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.